WB Panchayat Polls: State Promises Armed Personnel With 30% Jail Guards

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Kolkata: The state has informed the State Election Commission that it can provide armed cover to all the 43,067 poll premises for a one-day poll including 30% jail guards from the state.

Security for the single-phase rural polls will be a challenge as 58,000-odd policemen will have to guard an almost equal number of booths, a senior police officer has said.

Director-general of police Surajit Kar Purkayastha has informed the state election commission that around 58,000 personnel will be available for poll duty, 46,000 of them with firearms.

In 2013, then election commissioner Mira Pande had demanded 1.8 lakh armed cops for the 36,000 booths in South Bengal – excluding Maoist-infested Jungle Mahal – alone as 70 per cent of them were sensitive or highly sensitive.

In the 2013 polls, the Centre was asked to provide anything from 15,000 to 25,000 personnel to make up for the shortfall. In the five-phase polls in 2013, on an average 48,352 security personnel were deployed on every poll day.

Having declared May 14 as the poll day, the SEC faces its toughest task as it tries to pitch this security plan to the political parties.

According to a source, the state has informed SEC that it has 66,000 personnel at its disposal. These will be augmented by 1.1lakh civic volunteers, nearly 13,000 home guards and 2000 village volunteers.

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